In the Beginning …

If I had to choose a book of the Bible that was my favorite, I’d have to choose the Gospel of John. Why?

First, it’s easy to read – when John wrote it, he used words that everyone could understand. He wrote in Greek, of course, but it seems to have carried through in the translations. Second, but more importantly, this gospel shows God to be loving and kind. Third, it seems to focus on the spiritual and supernatural nature of Jesus. Finally, John is an eye-witness to the ministry of Jesus. Let’s look at the Gospel of John.

Notice that the first verse parallels Genesis 1:1 from the outset with “In the beginning.”

1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.2He was in the beginning with God.

Genesis talks about God the Creator and the Spirit but doesn’t say anything about the Word. Here, at the beginning of his gospel, John introduces us to the Word, who was present with God in the beginning. But this is loaded with even more meaning: In these first two verses, John emphasizes three important points about the Word.

In some ways, it seems that John may be repeating himself, but he wanted to make certain, beyond the shadow of a doubt, and with the utmost precision that words could manage, (a) that the reader would understand that the Word was in existence before the physical universe was created; (b) that the reader would know, again without a doubt, that the Word is not subordinate to God, the creator; and (c) that the Word is, indeed, God.

Clearly, John’s point is that before the world and the universe became the world and the universe, God was. He purposely echos Genesis 1:1 to illustrate the importance of what he is saying and to show that he is in-step with the writings that have been previously established as authentic and true. When we get to John 1:14, we shall find John revealing the real identity of the Word. But first, let’s investigate the Word a bit more. In Greek the word is logos and in Hebrew, amar.

I have a little book called Hebrew Honey by Al Novak that might help us to understand a little bit about the Jewish concept about this word: It (amar) signifies “that which has been brought into the light” and is what God wants his children to receive. It signifies thinking purposefully – God wants his children to walk with Him and discover what He has to reveal to them. It signifies commanding – God has the first and the final word.

I have also heard it explained that the Hebrew language is a relatively small language (as in few words, not richness of meaning), the consequences being that each word can have multiple meanings depending upon the context in which it is used. Because of this, at least in part, words are very precious and must be used carefully. For the first century Jew, once a word was spoken, it could not be taken back. It had been put into the world and it could not be unsaid or erased from the minds and hearts of those who received it.

John used “The Word” at the beginning of his gospel (and elsewhere in his writing) to convey the importance of its meaning to his Jewish and Greek readers. This positioning and presentation also has significance. In Greek, the position of a word emphasizes the importance on what the word conveys. In this case, for instance, John is putting emphasis and importance on “The Word” merely by position in the text. He wanted all his first century Jewish and Greek readers to know that the Word was, along with God and the Spirit, before anything was.

This was a revelation to John from God. Remember: the Hebrew word amar signifies something that God has brought to light that we might know the truth. He has revealed the Word to John so that His children (you and me and the whole world) would know the truth.

God Bless You in Every Way.

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